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Is age just a number? Credibility and identity of younger academics in UK business schools

Crozier, Sarah ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7677-9231 and Woolnough, Helen (2020) Is age just a number? Credibility and identity of younger academics in UK business schools. Management Learning, 51 (2). pp. 149-167. ISSN 1461-7307

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In this article, we use discursive qualitative interviews to explore identity challenges and opportunities experienced by younger academics in the business school environment. We frame identity construction and the influence of age as a reflexive and subjective process. We establish links between identity study and critical reflexivity and advocate for their benefits of supporting young academics in unpacking and navigating their fragile academic identities. Our data gleans important insights into the sense-making process, where identity norms and definitions of young academics influence their engagement in shaping their identity and the extent to which they achieve confidence and credibility. Where internal and external perceptions of required identities were problematic, imposter syndrome arose, presenting as accounts of marginalisation. We position the interplay of identity regulation and identity work as shaping the consequences of what were sometimes precarious outcomes of self-identity. Alongside this conceptual contribution, we provide practical avenues for support initiatives that may help young academics build legitimacy and overcome perceptions of marginalisation.

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